An auction to pay off a debt of Nelson Mandela's ex-wife failed to take place because no one would open her home to the sheriff.

Officials and reporters gathered Tuesday outside the gated home of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. No one responded to the doorbell although a black car sped out of the gates.

Madikizela-Mandela is loved by many for her role in the anti-apartheid struggle and abhorred by others for her alleged part in the kidnapping deaths of several young men in the 1980s.

A 2011 court ruling allowed the sale of art works and other belongings to pay R20,000 ($2,150) owed in private school fees for a family member.

Mandela and Madikizela-Mandela married in 1958, were separated because of his 27-year imprisonment and divorced in 1997 while he was president.